1. Does the bizarre idea of arming school teachers tell us something important about who we are, or what Trump would have us become, as a society? In an excellent opinion piece in Thursday’s New York Times, economist Paul Krugman argues that the fearsome brutality of the Trump / NRA / Republican vision reflects a broad Hobbesian philosophy of an ugly, dangerous, feral world, where all are on their own. Krugman points to US states where government has retreated from social guardianship, even in such matters as driving regulation, states where traffic deaths are up (against a national decline). The faction who follow Trumpism “is doing all it can to push us toward becoming a society in which individuals can’t count on the community to provide them with even the most basic guarantees of security — security from crazed gunmen, security from drunken drivers, security from exorbitant medical bills (which every other advanced country treats as a right, and does in fact manage to provide). In short, you might want to think of our madness over guns as just one aspect of the drive to turn us into what Thomas Hobbes described long ago: a society ‘wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them.’ And Hobbes famously told us what life in such a society is like: ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.'” [emphasis added] https://www.nytimes.com
2. Indeed, the mood of the country darkened this week, as the news media continued to report on the Parkland, Florida shootings as well as Trump’s bizarre weekend tweets. There is ugliness, anger, and profound sadness, as the students themselves led the way in understanding the massacre and responding to right-wing attacks on gun controls and even on them themselves. (Some right-wing conspiracy nuts—the term “theorists” used in the media is as inappropriate as their vile rants—suggested the outraged students were actors or had been coached by leftist anti-gun lobbyists: in The Washington Post here.) What is certainly new here is the impassioned rejection of the “thoughts and prayers” from politicians, led by the students, and spreading from Florida all over the country. The students’ rage has produced calls for national days of action, which we will link to below.
We first point you to the remarkable speech, which has “gone viral,” by Emma Gonzales, calling “BS” to right-wing excuses for inaction, like arming teachers. “Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see…If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association. You want to know something? It doesn’t matter, because I already know. Thirty million dollars…They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS.” [emphasis added]. This speech is worth reading, and we link you to the full transcript. at CNN, here: https://www.cnn.com/2018
The Republican lawmaker who has faced the most stinging criticism is the do-nothing-after-several-Flori
da-shootings Senator Marco Rubio. “In the hours after the Parkland, Fla., shooting, Rubio stood on the Senate floor and said that most of the tougher gun restrictions that others have proposed wouldn’t have prevented it. The state’s highest-profile Republican lawmaker has faced an intense backlash from Americans demanding new regulations on firearms. ‘Shame on you Marco Rubio & NRA,’ read a banner that was flown over the South Florida coastline.” So reports The Washington Post on Wednesday: https://www.washing tonpost.com/powerpost/rubio- faces-backlash-from-students- gun-control-advocates-after- shooting/2018/02/20/fc2a1a06- 1659-11e8-b681-2d4d462a1921_ story.html.
On Thursday: The Washington Post published a transcript of a passionate discussion at a town hall with Marco Rubio in Florida, with parents demanding answers from this gun-rights supporter: https://www.washing
tonpost.com/news/post-nation/ wp/2018/02/22/after-silence- on-parkland-nra-pushes-back- against-law-enforcement-the- media-and-gun-control- advocates/?.
The Toronto Globe and Mail reported to Canadians on American lockdown exercises: “Lockdown exercises, in which students huddle quietly in a corner of a locked, darkened classroom until they’re told it is safe to resume their day, are now a fact of life in the United States. But there is little consensus about whether such drills – or other safety measures – are effective in a mass-shooting situation. The high school where Wednesday’s shooting took place conducted lockdown drills, controlled entrances to the building and had a “school resource officer,” an armed law-enforcement officer who worked at the school. According to a report prepared for Congress in 2016, an estimated 97 per cent of school districts in the country performed lockdown exercises – the same percentage as fire drills. (A number of school boards in Canada, including in Toronto, require lockdown drills.)” https://www.theglobe
andmail.com/news/world/ lockdown-nation-schools-across -the-us-struggle-to-respond- to-mass-shootings/article38013 886/.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, students from the Florida high school marched on the state capitol in Tallahassee. The best reporting on this in print media has been from The Miami Herald: “Before the students arrived, they and their deputies prepared a plan aimed at providing a comprehensive package of reform — from raising the minimum age to obtain and purchase an assault rifle from 18 to 21, to providing more school security officers and mental health counselors, and enacting a waiting period for the high-capacity guns.” The paper also reported that, “The Florida House of Representatives refused to take up a bill to ban assault weapons.” [emphasis added] Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.c
om/news/politics-government/st ate-politics/article201254284. html. In the end, they made little headway with the legislators. Their disappointment is recorded by The New York Times, which leads with, “TALLAHASSEE — The morning began with optimism. It did not last long.” https://www.nytimes.com /2018/02/21/us/tallahassee-par kland-students.html.
We are still a long way from addressing the guns themselves as a major part of the problem. This is the implication of a new Washington Post/ ABC poll that finds that, “More than 6 in 10 Americans fault Congress and President Trump for not doing enough to prevent mass shootings, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, published Tuesday, with most Americans continuing to say these incidents are more reflective of problems identifying and addressing mental health issues than inadequate gun laws. In the poll conducted after a gunman killed 17 people at a Florida high school last week, more than three-quarters, 77 percent, said they think more effective mental health screening and treatment could have prevented the shooting.” For this incident, the response may be reasonable; but note this detail: “The Post-ABC poll also finds that 58 percent of adults say stricter gun control laws could have prevented the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but there is no rise in support for banning assault weapons compared with two years ago and the partisan divide on this policy is as stark as ever. On the issue of whether allowing teachers to carry guns could have deterred the rampage, a proposal Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said is an option for schools, 42 percent said they agreed.” [emphasis added] https://www.washingtonp
ost.com/politics/most- americans-say-trump-congress- not-doing-enough-to-stop-mass- shootings-post-abc-poll-finds/ 2018/02/19/3d0005dc-15af-11e8- 92c9-376b4fe57ff7_story.html.
On Thursday, the NRA pushed back, with an ad that said, according to The Washington Post, “’the mainstream media love mass shootings’ and claimed that members of the media benefit from covering mass shootings in an effort ‘to juice their ratings and push their agenda.’” NRA president Wayne LaPierrre “excoriated the media for its coverage of the shooting.” [emphasis added] https://www.washingtonp
ost.com/news/post-nation/wp/ 2018/02/22/after-silence-on- parkland-nra-pushes-back- against-law-enforcement-the- media-and-gun-control- advocates/.
All the same (despite Trump’s wholehearted cheer for the NRA and doubling down on arming teachers in a Thursday tweet), there may be some movement on some modest gun-control measures from President Trump, who on Tuesday signaled he would draft a plan to ban “bump stocks,” which make semi-automatic rifles automatic, and perhaps consider raising the purchasing age for semiautomatic weapons from 18 to 21. Read the summary here: https://www.washingtonpo
st.com/politics/trump-citing- evil-massacre-in-florida- starts-talking-about-gun- control/2018/02/20/8da6dd7e- 1683-11e8-b681-2d4d462a1921_ story.html.
3. Though Trump is trying to appear reasonable, making news over the weekend was a series of furious and disturbing tweets from him, attacking the FBI and the Friday indictments in the Russia probe. To be frank, it is hard to characterize these tweets, the tone of which make Captain Queeg look like Mr. Rogers. So we will just review some of the more offensive here. As The New York Times commented, directly in its news report, “[t]he president’s mood began to darken as it became clearer to him that some commentators were portraying the indictment as nothing for him to celebrate, according to three people with knowledge of his reaction. Those commentators called it proof that he had not won the election on his own, a particularly galling, if not completely accurate, charge for a president long concerned about his legitimacy. What followed was a two-day Twitter tirade that was unusually angry and defiant even by Mr. Trump’s standards. In his tweets on Sunday, Mr. Trump sought to shift the blame to Democrats for Russia’s meddling, saying that President Barack Obama had not done enough to stop the interference.” [emphasis added] https://www.nytimes.com
/2018/02/18/us/politics/trump- blames-obama-and-democrats- for-failing-to-stop-russian- meddling.html.
The Associated Press offered the most concise summary of the lies, misstatements, and evasions in the aggressive, defensive, and often apparently deluded-as-to-the-facts postings.
“President Donald Trump’s Twitter cannon roared over the weekend as the latest turn in the Russia investigation seemingly placed him on the defensive. He denied he had ever absolved Russia of meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, despite his plentiful record of voicing doubts on that question, said AP, as reported by The New York Times. “TRUMP: ‘I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said “it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.” The Russian “hoax” was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!’ — tweet Sunday…. THE FACTS: On multiple occasions Trump has challenged the veracity of the mounting evidence about Russian interference in the 2016 campaign….TRUMP: ‘Never gotten over the fact that Obama was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran and nobody in Congress, the FBI or Justice called for an investigation!’ — tweet Sunday. THE FACTS: It’s not clear what there could be to investigate,” says AP, since this was just money that was already legally owed to Iran. “TRUMP: ‘General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems.’ — tweet Saturday. THE FACTS: H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, would have had no basis to say Russia failed to impact the U.S. election because that is an open question. McMaster said the indictment provides ‘really incontrovertible’ evidence of Russian malfeasance in the election.” [emphasis added] https://www.nytimes.com
/aponline/2018/02/19/us/politi cs/ap-us-trump-fact-check.html .
In yet another misinformed and deeply offensive tweet, Trump remarked, as reported by Reuters and The New York Times: “‘Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable,’ …They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion,’ he added. The Republican president offered no evidence of any link between the investigation of Russian meddling and the FBI’s failure to prevent the Florida shooting, the deadliest-ever at a U.S. high school. Student survivors of the massacre slammed Trump for connecting it to the Russia probe, which has shadowed his year-old presidency. ‘Oh my god. 17 OF MY CLASSMATES AND FRIENDS ARE GONE AND YOU HAVE THE AUDACITY TO MAKE THIS ABOUT RUSSIA???!!’ Morgan Williams, 16, tweeted. ‘HAVE A DAMN HEART.’ Several lawmakers, including a fellow Republican, also rejected Trump’s linking of the FBI’s missteps in preventing the shooting to the Russia probe.” More details here: https://www.nytimes.com/
reuters/2018/02/18/us/politics /18reuters-usa-trump-russia. html.
Washington Post commentators were alarmed at the instability shown by the weekend tweets. “Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, and the Russia scandal in general, are driving this president around the bend, to the point where he is setting himself against not just the government he leads but also the interests of the United States of America. And everything we’ve seen up to now suggests that it will only get worse.” This is just one example of the alarm generated by the tweets in the paper’s op-ed section. “Multiple reports today from journalists covering the White House paint a picture of a president who spent the weekend seething with rage — at Mueller, at the media, at members of his administration, at the fact that he couldn’t play golf because it would have been unseemly in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting — and lashing out at everyone in sight, up to and including Oprah Winfrey. This is not a man with a firm command of his impulses.” So says Paul Waldman on Feb. 18. https://www.washingtonpost.co
m/blogs/plum-line/wp/2018/02/ 19/president-trump-is-losing- control/. And the next day, opinion writer Jennifer Rubin, in her column titled, “Trump, panicking, reveals the depths of his awfulness,” says, “Aside from the blizzard of lies, one is struck by how frantic Trump sounds. The number and looniness of the tweets arguably exceed anything he has previously done.” [emphasis added] She summarizes the lies and strange evasions in the tweets here: https://www.washingtonpo st.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/ 2018/02/19/trump-panicking- reveals-the-depths-of-his- awfulness/.
A lead in The Washington Post on Feb. 18 speaks for itself: “MUNICH — Amid global anxiety about President Trump’s approach to world affairs, U.S. officials had a message for a gathering of Europe’s foreign policy elite this weekend: Pay no attention to the man tweeting behind the curtain.” https://www.washingt
onpost.com/world/top-us- officials-tell-the-world-to- ignore-trumps-tweets/2018/02/ 18/bc605236-14a2-11e8-942d-16a 950029788_story.htm [emphasis added].
4. Trump seems to have feared that he was not fully exonerated in these indictments, at least in most of the press (and angered he could not go play golf because it would not look good so soon after the shootings). What did the indictments show? A remarkable attack on the American elections by Russian operatives, here in the US and at a center in St. Petersburg, as outlined in Mueller’s indictment. Our readers may have heard bits of these activities, but the attack was remarkable in its scope, and though no one can say if it did in fact influence the outcome, in such a close race in some states, it certainly may have. One of the best summaries comes from The Guardian: “Russians posed as politically and socially active Americans, advocating for and against particular candidates, according to Mueller. They created social media pages and groups, and bought political adverts such as ‘JOIN our #HillaryClintonForPrison2016’ and ‘Donald wants to defeat terrorism … Hillary wants to sponsor it’. They relied on identity theft, using the social security numbers, home addresses and birth dates of Americans without their knowledge. They set up fake bank accounts linked to PayPal accounts. ‘They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support [Democratic candidate] Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump,’ the indictment states.” [emphasis added] They were also behind Facebook ads from a series of “Miners for Trump” rallies in Pennsylvania, a state Trump won by 68,000 votes. https://www.theguardian
.com/us-news/2018/feb/17/ putins-chef-a-troll-farm-and- russias-plot-to-hijack-us- democracy.
Perhaps the most frightening activities, from the standpoint of influencing an election, come from Florida, where the spies were particularly active and bold. A Politico magazine essay has the details, which included on-the-ground rally operations: “The interactions were part of planning events that were collectively called ‘Florida Goes Trump’ rallies, and held throughout the state. Russians also helped organize some of the most recognizable anti-Hillary Clinton displays of the election cycle in Florida. ‘For example, defendants and their co-conspirators asked one U.S. person to build a cage on on a flatbed truck … and another U.S. person to wear a costume portraying Clinton in a prison uniform,’ the indictment read.” https://www.politico.co
m/story/2018/02/16/mueller-ind ictment-russia-florida-interfe rence-416255. And The Washington Post and other outlets report that black voters were encouraged, on fake Instagram and Twitter postings (such as fake “Woke Blacks”), not to vote at all, or to vote for Jill Stein. And evangelicals were targeted by social media ads portraying Hillary Clinton as Satan. See the comprehensive summary in Politico, here: https://www.politico.com /story/2018/02/16/mueller-indi ctment-hillary-clinton-key- findings-415692. *Highly recommended reading.
5. We have mentioned the work of Arlie Hochschild, author of Strangers in Their Own Land, in earlier posts. She is the Berkeley sociologist who travelled the country’s red states in the South to understand the grievances of the Trump people, many of whom actually voted for Obama in earlier elections. In a piece updated from her book and published in The Guardian on Feb. 17, she suggests four pillars of a strategy for progressives to reach out and change minds. “The purpose of the first pillar is to affirm in every possible way our precious and fragile system of democracy: its checks and balances, its independent judiciary, its free press. The second is to recognize that if the Democratic party is to pose a magnetically attractive alternative to Donald Trump, it must address the grievances, the life experiences, the sense of losing ground, of people like those I met and describe in my book, Strangers in Their Own Land. Millions of Trump voters saw the Democrats as beholden to corporate interests as the Republicans, and I believe they are right. Third, we need to get out the vote. Fourth, those of us in liberal enclaves need to reach out to people who grew up in geographic regions, classes, or religious groups very different from our own.” https://www.theguardian.
com/commentisfree/2018/feb/17/ american-democracy-four-pillar s-activism-arlie-hochschild. * Highly recommended reading.
6. While Hochschild seems to offer us hope in a contentious and increasingly bitter world, Steven Pinker, also in The Guardian on the 17th, adapts an essay from call to optimism over the world’s progress, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. Pinker has argued that in fact the world is not falling apart or becoming more dangerous. Perhaps this perception is caused by our addiction to the news cycle, which has nothing to report but frightening tragedies and crises. “The nature of news is likely to distort people’s view of the world. Every day the news is filled with stories about war, terrorism, crime, pollution, inequality, drug abuse and oppression. And it’s not just the headlines we’re talking about; it’s the op-eds and long-form stories as well. Magazine covers warn us of coming anarchies, plagues, epidemics, collapses, and so many “crises” (farm, health, retirement, welfare, energy, deficit) that copywriters have had to escalate to the redundant ‘serious crisis.’ Whether or not the world really is getting worse, the nature of news will interact with the nature of cognition to make us think that it is.” [emphasis added] Pinker is a respected Harvard cognitive psychologist, linguist, and evolutionary psychologist, and though his views are controversial, they are always worth your attention. Do you agree with his premise? https://www.theguardi
an.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/ 17/steven-pinker-media- negative-news. *Highly recommended reading.
Pinker has become something of a rationalist icon on college campuses, and Times conservative columnist David Brooks finds much to admire about him, while criticizing his excessive rationalism in suggesting our social problems are the result of irrational thinking only: “But our nation is emotionally sick. Pinker’s rationalism is not the total cure. But I have to confess, I really like him.” https://www.nytimes.com/
2018/02/22/opinion/steven-pink er-radical-honesty.html. *High ly recommended reading.
[The Research Team adds, editorially, that David Brooks himself represents a kind of Thomas Carlyle conservatism, where the real problem is a spiritual malaise, as “narcissistic impulses have been given free rein, [and] spiritual longings have nowhere healthy to go.” It is also the case that the advancements and overall progress in human life cited by Brooks from Pinker are largely the outcome of social policies of modern governments, not improvements in spiritual life.]
7. Of course, Pinker is a Canadian, used to a relatively peaceful country, and the world may look a bit different from the standpoint, not of crisis news, but of slowly brewing conflicts and escalating aggressive rhetoric from major powers. For example, though not much noticed last week in the US press, given other news, The Guardian reported last Friday that, “The navy admiral nominated to be the next US ambassador to Australia [Harry Harris] has told Congress America must prepare for the possibility of war with China, and said it would rely on Australia to help uphold the international rules-based system in the Asia-Pacific.” https://www.the
guardian.com/world/2018/feb/ 16/admiral-warns-us-must-prepa re-for-possibility-of-war- with-china.
8. Some news outlets last week also reported in more detail on our president’s character flaws in the realm of sexual relations. A New Yorker story was picked up, after it was revealed that Trump apparently had an affair with a Playboy bunny, Karen McDougal, just a couple of years after his marriage to Melania. The real story here, though, involves McDougal’s description of the affair: “her account provides a detailed look at how Trump and his allies used clandestine hotel-room meetings, payoffs, and complex legal agreements to keep affairs—sometimes multiple affairs he carried out simultaneously—out of the press.” [emphasis added] McDougal signed an agreement with “the publisher of the National Enquirer, [who] had paid a hundred and fifty thousand dollars for exclusive rights to McDougal’s story, which it never ran. Purchasing a story in order to bury it is a practice that many in the tabloid industry call “catch and kill.” This is a favorite tactic of the C.E.O. and chairman of A.M.I., David Pecker, who describes the President as ‘a personal friend.’” [Yes, that really is his name, and yes, his paper is the Fox News of the supermarket tabloid world.] Now McDougal is telling her story, despite the legal dangers, having found religion and regretting her naivety. Read the extraordinary investigative report, which tells so much about how Trump and his fixers operate, here: https://www.newyorker.co
m/news/news-desk/donald-trump- a-playboy-model-and-a-system- for-concealing-infidelity- national-enquirer-karen- mcdougal.
[The Research Team notes: It is certainly true that presidents, in distant and recent pasts, have had their mistresses. And Bill Clinton was, notoriously, no angel. Whether the vulgarity, boorishness, and bullying of the present chief executive rises to a difference in essential morality, we will leave to our readers to debate. But whether payoffs by a Trump fixer (or perhaps even Trump himself) constitute an illegal campaign expenditure is something on which the courts have not yet ruled.]
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.
com/news/politics-government/s tate-politics/article201254284 .html#storylink=cpy
9. However, Trump’s alleged assaults on women, including unwanted kissing and inappropriate touching—about which he himself has bragged on the infamous Access Hollywood tape—is a separate but not un-related matter. Over the weekend, The Washington Post published an extended report on one woman who has had the courage to speak out, after Trump grabbed her and kissed her at her job in a company in Trump Tower in New York. Rachel Crooks, from Tiffin, Ohio, has told her story after years of feeling shame and humiliation. When she did speak out, like many of the 19 women who have accused Trump of sexual assault, she was harassed and ridiculed, even threatened, on social media. But she is now running for state representative and so hopes to reach more people in her district, most of whom voted for Trump. Read her story here: https://www.washingtonpo
st.com/news/national/wp/2018/ 02/19/feature/trump-accuser- keeps-telling-her-story- hoping-someone-will-finally- listen/.
10. “New Pennsylvania map gives Democrats big boost in midterms: the extra Democratic-leaning seats are primarily in the Philadelphia suburbs.” So reads the headline in the Feb. 19 Politico report on the Pennsylvania supreme court’s imposed re-districting of what it had found to be Republican-favoring gerrymandering. This is very good news for Democrats, who may actually pick up a couple of seats, moving them closer to the current 24-seat number they must pick up to regain control of the House. Read the full report here: https://www.politico.com
/story/2018/02/19/pennsylvania -redistrict-democrats- midterms-354432. [Note: the March 13 special election outside Pittsburgh to replace Republican Rep. Tim Murphy will proceed under the old map.]
11. The Trump administration is yet again attacking the Affordable Care Act, this time with “a proposed expansion in the length of time a household can receive a lower cost, short-term health-coverage plan that does not meet the Affordable Health Care’s standards for insurance. Under the new proposal, households can purchase the more limited plan for a year — up from three months. If this proposal goes through — and the chances are very high that this regulatory change will ultimately be finalized — it could cause enormous damage to the Affordable Care Act, while at the same time not do a thing to help people with the increasingly high cost of health insurance.” This Washington Post report on Tuesday describes an expansion of so-called “junk insurance” plans that are barely insurance plans at all, as they are not subject to ACA rules on coverage or on covering pre-existing conditions: https://www.washin
gtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/ wp/2018/02/20/another-day- another-trump-attack-on-the- affordable-care-act/.
12. The Times reports on a shocking problem in coal country: a spike in black lung disease. “The severity of the disease among miners at the Virginia clinics ‘knocked us back on our heels,’ said David J. Blackley, an epidemiologist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, who led the research. It was equally troubling, he said, that nearly a quarter of the miners with complicated black lung disease had been on the job fewer than 20 years.” https://www.nytimes.co
13. And no, coal is not coming back. The black lung epidemic is just one of three signs, says New York Times opinion writer Jeff Nesbit, executive director of Climate Nexus, a nonprofit communications group focused on climate change and clean energy, and author of the forthcoming book This Is the Way the World Ends. Nesbit also cites 1) the closing of coal-fired plants all over the country, including states where Trump won; and 2) the administration knows full well the industry cannot survive without federal bailouts. “After the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected a proposal from Mr. Perry, the energy secretary, last month to subsidize struggling coal and nuclear plants, he has apparently been exploring a new route to bail out coal companies like Murray Energy Corporation, whose owner, Bob Murray, is an important donor to the president.” https://www.
nytimes.com/2018/02/19/ opinion/trump-coal-decline. html.
14. We continue to inform our readers of the growth of extremism and neo-fascism in Europe. On Monday, The Washington Post reported on alarming events across the continent: “In Poland, the president signs a law criminalizing anyone who dares suggest that the country’s citizens helped perpetrate crimes of the Holocaust. In Italy, a Mussolini-admiring neo-fascist goes on a shooting rampage targeting people with dark skin. And from Hungary to Britain, leading government figures and their allies promote dark theories about a Jewish financier plotting to subvert the national will.” Moreover, extremist, neo-fascist, or nationalist parties have gained power or parliamentary seats in Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Poland. https://www.washington
post.com/world/europe/in-laws- rhetoric-and-acts-of-violence- europe-is-rewriting-dark- chapters-of-its-past/2018/02/ 19/4ab36f7a-0ddf-11e8-998c- 96deb18cca19_story.html.
The latest country to be ruled by nationalists is Austria, where, as The Guardian reported on Dec. 16, it became “the only western European state with a far-right presence in government after its president approved a controversial coalition deal.” https://www.theguardian
.com/world/2017/dec/16/ austrian-president-approves- far-right-freedom-party-role- in-coalition-government.
For a long-form treatment of this issue, read the excellent summary article by Philip Oltermann, the Guardian reporter in Budapest, “Can Europe’s new xenophobes reshape the continent?” [emphasis added] https://www.theguardian
.com/world/2018/feb/03/europe- xenophobes-continent-poland- hungary-austria-nationalism- migrants.
15. In These Times on Feb. 7 reported on the primary race in Illinois’s 3rd congressional district between Rep. Dan Lipinski and progressive challenger Marie Newman. The magazine reminds us that, “Lipinski, who identifies Ronald Reagan as a political hero, votes against his party nearly twice as often as the average Democrat. In recent years, he’s received harsh ratings from civil liberties, civil rights, education, women’s rights, immigrant rights, pro-environment, anti-
war and LGBT organizations. He also has a 100 percent rating from the anti-abortion National Right to Life committee. In 2012, Lipinski even refused to endorse Barack Obama for reelection.” This race could be a bellwether for the coming November elections. http:// inthesetimes.com/article/ 20895/democratic-party- illinois-marie-newman-dan- lipinski-2018.
16. The New York Times reports that “The [US Supreme] Court will hear arguments on Monday about whether the government employees represented by Mr. Clover’s union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, must pay the union a fee for representing them in collective bargaining. Conservative groups, supported by the Trump administration, say the First Amendment bars forcing government workers from having to pay anything, and the court has sent strong signals that it agrees with that argument.” This key case represents Gov. Rauner’s assault on labor unions, and if it is decided against them, it would be a critical blow to one of labor’s last and strongest holdouts in America, public unions. https://www.nytimes.co
17. In yet another assault on public education—indeed on public life, as reported in number 1 above—Times op-ed writer Tamar Manesseh reports on the closing of yet more Chicago schools: “On Feb. 28, the Chicago Board of Education is expected to vote on a disastrous proposal to close four public high schools with declining enrollment around the Englewood neighborhood of southwest Chicago. The affected children, who are overwhelmingly black and poor, would go to public schools out of the neighborhood or be encouraged to attend one of the charter schools being pushed by business and religious interests….Dwindling enrollment is a reality at these schools, but that’s partly because the city has not invested nearly enough in them. At the same time, Chicago has opened dozens of new schools, mostly charters, which draw students away from traditional public schools.” https://www.nytimes.
18. Our readers will be interested to read The Chicago Tribune’s endorsements in all Illinois primary races, including gubernatorial and congressional: http://election
The Daily Herald does not have a single page for endorsements, but they are collected on several under the heading, “Elections”: http://www.dailyh
Sun-Times endorsements are not complete as of today, Feb. 22, but a preliminary list is here :https://chicago.suntimes.com/